Winter’s Withered Hand

Winter’s withered hand

Scrapes across muted landscapes

And steals comfort from the earth.

Birds fall frozen to the ground,

Lambs to the seasonal slaughter,

Ducks held fast in unflinching ice.

The elders give up the ghost,

Just fade away

In this death-howling season–

While pale newborns struggle towards spring.

In this silenced land of winter,

colors stark, dissolved,

Black limbs lifted to a somber sky–

Wooden beggars pleading for alms,

I listen for the melting

One unseasonable day—

The breaking of ice around a dam,

The baby  babble of some brook

The laugh of a crow overhead,

The drip-drip of a leaky faucet—

The earth will turn

On its axis

With the promise

Of Winter fading.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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9 Responses to “Winter’s Withered Hand”

  1. Berowne Says:

    I like it! Two things you might consider:
    – adding a verb after ‘lambs’ to avoid a parallel with birds falling; ‘trudge’ would be interesting as incongruous for lambs but appropriate to the death theme;
    – dropping or replacing ‘baby’; with breaking, babble, and brook in two adjoining lines, ‘baby babble’ gets a touch sing-song. Infant or childish babble, perhaps?


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Berowne,

    First, thank you for reading and your helpful comments.

    I just wrote this two nights ago, and wanted to let it settle, but then was bothered by the ending. I am not one who thinks a poem should go in the deep freeze somewhere on the desk, and decided to post this for comments.

    Nothing is in concrete…(maybe my Lady Nyo’s Poems and Other Verse, but she is carrying a sword)….so I welcome suggestions.

    “Trudge” is a good word …but it rather changes things…which is ok. I have to look at this more. Perhaps continuing something:

    “Birds fall frozen to the ground,
    Lambs fall to the seasonal slaughter”.

    *I am not adverse to using the same word in a stanza if it bridges something.

    “And lambs to the seasonal slaughter”

    But then when you expand it with words, the “Ducks held fast in unflinching ice” sounds unbalanced.

    LOL! “baby babble” was the fresh, new experience….yes, sing song, and there is nothing wrong with that….and also there are references to my eye back to “While pale newborns”…etc.

    Well, it is a work in process….Thanks, Berowne for the suggestions.

    Lady Nyo


  3. R.K.SINGH Says:

    Hi Jane. We have not written to each other for a long time. But I have been visiting your blog almost regularly and this morning I had a whim to copy some of your (and others’) comments on my poetry and paste these on my blog:

    You may also like to view some other pieces here.

    With season’s Greetings and Best wishes for a Happy Christmas

    R K


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, RK! I wrote to you about a month ago, but no answer. I figured you were deep into the seminar, and pushed for time.

    I was going to write again before Christmas. And Happy Christmas and with the Best Wishes for the New Year!

    I will look at your blog today. I always love to read your beautiful poetry, so that will be a delight!

    I am so glad you surfaced, dear friend.



  5. ladynyo Says:

    Oh! I am glad I visited your site. It gave me a new lift….reading all our words, and Nick’s….and Berowne’s..made me realize how much what we all write means…and the form of communication that we develop.

    Is there anything better than attempting poetry?

    I need to read your site a couple of times a week….because there is so much good stuff there.

    Thank you, RK, for being in my life….and your wonderful influence in my readers.

    Lady Nyo


  6. R.K.SINGH Says:

    You have been so generous to me, and other poets too. We have all enriched our experiences interacting with each other.
    I am glad you visited the blog and noted its contents.
    R K


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Well, if poets can’t bind and combine with each other…what hope do we have for the world??? LOL!…

    I had hoped that this blog would be a meeting place for other writers, and especially poets. I think it has, in a very small way, RK, but it can certainly expand.

    It is YOU who have been so generous to me. First, even noticing my poetry, as you know I have only been writing a few years…and your continuing to encourage me when it seems very bleak out there.

    I will keep visiting your blog and leaving comments. We go towards the New Year with revived hope for poetry….and life.



  8. R.K.Singh Says:

    I agree with your views about poets not interacting with each other as much as we would like them to, but it’s ok.
    Let’s hope the New Year approaches as with great promises. Rest is luck.
    R K


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Well, some poets do…but I think it’s all based on personal relationships…perhaps knowing the other poet makes it ‘safer’???

    I think poets generally are very …ah…territorial…about poetry….LOL!

    I’m with you on the issue of ‘great promises!”…and yes, the rest is luck.



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